Monday, October 12, 2009

Avs Improving: Road Trip Thoughts

When I eventually have my first child, I assume that watching him/her grow up will somewhat resemble the last three Avalanche games.

The journey started in Nashville, where the Avalanche had the lead in the third period with about eight minutes to go and promptly fell apart and failed to get the game to OT. The play was sloppy, Anderson became mortal, and Brett Clark turned the puck over in a 3-2 loss.

Next came Chicago, a team with Stanley Cup aspirations. Fighting hard in a back-and-forth game, the Avs were up, then down, then tied, but managed to secure a point by getting through 60 minutes (and several Brett Clark turnovers) knotted up. In the shootout, Wolski, Duchene, and a bunch of others failed, while Hejduk, Svatos, and Tucker recorded goals for Colorado. In the 9-round shootout, however, it wasn't enough, as Chicago topped the Avs 4-3.

Finally, the Avalanche just finished beating one of the "Beats of the East" 4-3. The Bruins were more physical, had a better third period, but were unable to crack the Avalanche down the stretch. David Jones played his first game and was BIG with an assist and a shorthanded goal. TJ Galiardi is a star in the making. He was on the ice for the final seconds and took several huge hits, including one that allowed Jones's breakaway in the second.

Suddenly, the Avs are 3-1-1. They're getting better with each game, and apart from a few Brett Clark turnovers, have been extremely solid in their own zone.

Raise your hand if you thought that Matt Hendricks would be the first Avalanche rookeie to get his first goal. Duchene is has been quieter on the road trip and seemed to choke in the shootout against Chicago. He just needs one. The rest will follow.

A big YES for Milan Hejduk and Marek Svatos. Both players have two goals on this trip. Avalanche fans figured goals would come few and far between this season (so far not the case) but if Hejduk and Svatos can have big years, that's obviously huge.

Thumbs up to Joe Sacco for the improvement the team has shown on the power play and penalty kills. With eight PP goals in five games, I can't believe that I actually get to watch a true man advantage again. The PK has been - terrific. A bunch of big kills today and a huge 5-on-3 kill in the Chicago game.

Anderson and stickhandling. It reminds me of Patrick Roy. He's created a lot of work for himself and there have been at least one or two goals that have come from his turnovers. Still, the Avs are 3-1-1. Can't complain.

Healthy scratches = TJ Hensick and Chris Stewart
Sacco has made it clear that if a player takes a few shifts off, he's going to be benched/scratched. We've already seen it with Wolski, now it appears that Stewart better get his act together.

Next Up

The Avs play tomorrow night at 7:30 PM ET against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs are 0-3-1 this year and still have to play tonight against the New York Rangers in Madison Square Garden. Uh oh.

When will Peter Budaj get his first start? This seems like the best opportunity.

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